May 2020 Power Womxn
We’re committed to uplifting the amazing womxn in tech who are working to ensure that everyone – no matter who they are or where they live – can achieve reproductive well-being. Brought to you by Pandia Health, we are pleased to launch the Power Womxn series in which we will feature womxn FemTech leaders and founders who are out to change the world!
This month’s Power Womxn is Alexandra Fine, CEO and Co-founder of Dame Products.
1. What inspired you to start/lead your company?
(Almost) all people come from sex, and yet it’s something we, as a society, still struggle to discuss. Early on, I discovered my passion for improving our culture’s relationship and experience of sex. I went on to earn my Masters in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in sex therapy from Columbia University. I felt that, personally, I could make a bigger difference by starting a company – so that’s what I set out to do.
While I was making vibrator prototypes in my kitchen from silver dollar coins & plastic wrap, my soon-to-be co-founder Janet Lieberman-Lu (an MIT alumna with years of product development experience) was also thinking about starting a sex toy company. She knew that sex toys weren’t being held to the same standards as the other consumer goods and knew she had the skillset to ensure that they were.
It only took one breakfast meeting to know we had the complementary skills to start something special. Dame Products was born!
2. How does your work help give people the tools to achieve reproductive well-being?
When developing any of our products, we apply extensive research, smart design principles, and – perhaps most importantly – empathy.
Through our research arm, Dame Labs, our customers inform so much of our product development process. From the type of stimulation a product provides to where each button is placed, we test every detail with real people to ensure we’re providing real solutions for the bedroom – not just prescribing what we think people want/need. The Dame community is working to humanize a product space that isn’t always speaking to the audience it serves.
3. How would you define success for your company and for the fem tech space, more generally?
We first started Dame Products with a mission to close the pleasure gap – the disparity in satisfaction that people with vulvas experience in the bedroom, versus their cis male counterparts. The fact that a majority of people with vulvas need clitoral stimulation for pleasurable sex, is more widely understood than it was a decade ago — and sharing that message is a success point for us. This is opening up doors for so many people with vulvas to explore sex with clitoral touch as a focal point — with or without penetration.
4. How do you see the FemTech space changing in the next 5 years? What are you looking forward to?
The sex industry is on a swing from a male-centric vice industry to a female-centric wellness industry, and that's a pretty big change. Sex is becoming a more public part of everyday conversation, which helps shed light on high quality products within the industry. We're seeing it more openly discussed in pop culture, which helps validate and sanction products that were once shamed. Beyond that, the rise of technological advancements in the space have helped demonstrate that these products are just as intricate and thoughtfully-made as those in any other category.
Ultimately, I think the sextech space will continue to evolve from novelty toys to sexual health, and be a one-stop-shop for tools that bring value and pleasure to sex, whether that’s solo sex or with a partner.
5. What advice would you give other womxn looking to get into FemTech?
When we first started, Dame Products was one of few companies making sex toys led by people with vulvas – who understood firsthand the anatomy we were designing for. Now, we’re being joined by so many women and nonbinary folks looking to disrupt sex tech. Not only is this raising the standard for the toys and products we see on the market, but also shifting the conversation to a less cismale-centric view on sex. So, my advice would be to jump on in — because we need the voices of more womxn / nonbinary folks / all different kinds of humans to create products that solve all different kinds of problems.